Saturday, January 31, 2009


the month of love has rolled around again. i have been trying to channel my friend carlo's "love of all things love" lately. we don't "do" valentine's in a big way around my house, but i certainly "love" finding bits and pieces of "lovely" inspiration around the blogosphere.

when i say we don't "do" valentine's around my house, i mean that it often comes on quickly and we end up treating it like Income Tax Day - worth a mention at dinner, but nothing remarkable! the holiday that celebrates our feelings for each other certainly deserves a little attention! cristin is going all out and doing 14 days of valentine's for her family!! isn't that wonderful? surely i can make a better effort.

i'm choosing, though, to focus on the love that exists in my marriage. to spend some time really communicating with the love in my life. our relationship deserves more than perfunctory dinner conversation, doesn't it? with "the day" falling on a saturday this year, there's always the chance we might actually make a date of it. but in case that doesn't happen, i'm prepared to spend this month sharing some meaningful moments together. and that includes meaningful self portraits!! (did i just hear a collective gasp of horror from the significant others out there?!?)

for tuesday, february 3rd i love it when you...

for tuesday, february 10th i think it would be romantic to...

for tuesday, february 17th
the first thing that attracted me to you was...

for tuesday, february 24th i am saying "i love you" when i...

spread the love!!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009


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i love my job!!
i am so lucky to be able to say that.

soup swap '09

if there is a better way to 1)entertain a group of friends; 2) share your love of good food; and 3) stock your freezer before heading out of town for a week, i don't even want to know about it! because after three years of swapping soup, i am fairly convinced that knox gardner and the original soup swappers have created brilliance!

Third Thursday happened to land on the night before i left town for a week in New Orleans. now, your average hostess might be a little daunted by the prospect of having more than a dozen guests over when she should be doing laundry and packing. but, not a Soup Swap hostess!! i'm telling you, once you've made and frozen your own soup contribution, Soup Swap basically takes care of itself!

gathering for the Telling of the Soup. (see those two adorable little soup afficianados dressed in pink? hard to believe they weren't even around when we started swapping soup three years ago!)

the Telling is an awesome opportunity to share your love of soup, your inspiration for this years contribution, and the nutritional and/or caloric content of your soup. (is it any surprise that the soup that was described as "SO not good for you" was the first to be snatched up?)

of course, you know everyone only comes to Swap because of the awesome prizes!! (just kidding, of course.) this year, the Silver Ladle was offered up to the first soup chosen from the table. (by the way, i found the inspiration for the Silver Ladle, and TONS of other great ideas, on the National Soup Swap site.) there were soup bowls for the first soup gone, and, of course a little something for the last soup to be picked. there's no shame in last people! especially when you see what we had to choose from this year:

Save the Squirrels" Brunswick Stew (oh, how we appreciate the fact that no squirrels were harmed in this *adaptation* of a traditional recipe...)
Any Day Chili
Potato Leek
Southwestern Soup

Santa Fe Soup
Beer Cheese Bacon Soup
Spicy Tomato
Potato Spinach Tomato Soup

Sausage & Peppers Soup
Buffalo Chicken Soup

Ma's Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup
Chicken Pepper Pot

(links to many of these recipes found here.)

you bet that's my soup, all decked out in football regalia! do you think i was being too pushy by offering Superbowl cocktail napkins to the person who grabbed my soup first? hah! there is nothing quite like the thrill of hearing a plastic football whistle blown when someone scores a quart of Buffalo Chicken Soup!

it was hotly contested this year that i might, or might not, have told a new swapper that we brought pints of soup, instead of quarts. did she stay home with her soup and sulk? no way! she supplemented! a half dozen, still-warm(!) chocolate chip cookies to go with an awesome soup? i think my friend crystal has stumbled upon a winning recipe!

you should always take a picture of the full bounty of soup swap. there really is nothing so pleasing on a cold winter's night. six of these delicious quarts (well, five quarts and one pint) ended up in my freezer that night. my only regret about swapping the night before heading out of town for a week, was that the tasting would have to wait!

Monday, January 26, 2009

big river keep on rollin'

i have to say, i'm thrilled you are still coming around to read this blog. i'm sure the lack of updates is maddening. what can i say? the re-entry has been challenging.

(there are drafts to be edited! i know you want to know about natasha and carlo! and soup swap! and what the heck was so entertaining about a Hampton Inn conference! all in good time.) (well, most in good time...) (a-hem.)

here i am standing by the Mighty Mississippi. the midpoint of my journey. natasha, hoop, the kids and i were heading off in search of po-boys. the hilton riverside is in the background. half of my week lay behind me. half was still to come...

stick with me. i'll tell my stories. just as soon as i finish missing my vacation!

Thursday, January 22, 2009


i am home. home from a week in New Orleans. a week of thousands of new things with people i feel i've known for a lifetime. there will be many, many posts written about my incredible journey.

but, for now, here i am, trying my *new* phone in the Big Easy. i got my "smartphone" approximately 18 hours before i left for my trip, and it was my constant companion.

(if we are not friends on facebook, you really missed out on some wacky status updates, via my lovely new phone. i like to think of it as speed blogging. just think about it...)

did you try something new this week?

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

this space reserved for spt

let's just say i've been a little, uh, sidetracked in new orleans... mr. linky and I will be back tomorrow night! I miss you all!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

creative saturday

natasha, carlo and i have been reading the same blog circle-of-friends long enough to have developed some serious cases of "creative envy." one thing we knew we wanted to work into our weekend was a Creative Friday. well, we didn't get to it until saturday, but i think it's safe to say we were successful, nonetheless.

first and foremost, we knew that Creative Day absolutely had to involve great food. and preferably chocolate.

(kim made amazing chocolate balls.)

we also knew we had to have a creative project that would give us some instant satisfaction. natasha gave us all the materials to create some fun gift tags.

she introduced us to "gluepads" and we set about artfully stamping and glittering.

(carlo takes her work very seriously.)

we declared the night a success after we had created a variety of tags, although we agreed that none of us is quite ready to open an etsy shop yet!

good food, good friends, good times. i think we nailed it!

where to start?

when my annual hotel conference was scheduled for new orleans, i was thrilled (having never been to new orleans, and all.) i made my reservations at the hilton new orleans riverside, and immediately emailed natasha.

"i'm coming to town. any chance of getting together?"

i think her response was, "for reals?!?" and the seed for my first journey of the new year had been planted.

my next email was to carlo. ever since our unsuccessful attempt to meet up at jill's blogger party last may, we have been navigating our hectic schedules to try to find a way to get together. after the stars aligned, and natasha upped the ante with a very generous offer of a place to stay for the weekend, plane tickets were booked. we were on our way!

somewhere along the way, i forgot to consider the fact that it might be a little bizarre to plan on spending the weekend with total strangers! i think it was easy enough for that little detail to slip my mind, because these women just don't seem like strangers to me. and if there was ever any concern that our meetup would be awkward or uncomfortable... well, those concerns have long since been replaced by the familiar twinge of this weekends' belly laughs. to say that we have had fun would be the understatement of the year.

yesterday was full of the French Quarter and Bourbon Street and Cafe du Monde. today will be tea at Windsor Court (we're leaving no stone unturned!) natasha and kim have entertained us and fed us, and even schlepped us to Target! i'm realizing that this post will end up being many posts - there is so much to talk about!

i have learned many things this weekend. we have decided that natasha is much less *serious* than we might have thought. and kim is constantly on the go, cooking and cleaning and being gracious while we hook her into our blogging world. apparently, i am more *reserved* than the girls imagined i would be, and carlo is ready to "facebook it" all!

we have laughed and listened and crafted. we have created stories about "the old days" at Tulane (i don't even know how to explain that...) the King has been found in the Cake, and i am going to be late for tea if i don't get a move on!!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

new orleans

the Big Easy is FUN!! natasha and hoop are the best hostesses. and carlo is hysterical! we are having a quite time discovering New Orleans. wish you were here!

Friday, January 16, 2009

1/2 way there

made it to charlotte (hi, jesse!) with little trouble, tho it looked a bit dicey for a few minutes. i've got a moment to hang out before my next flight. i'm catching up on my people watching.

wow. i've been stuck at home for too long. people traveling are so fun to observe. this year of journeying should be highly entertaining!

...and...i'm off!

this week has been over-the-top busy! I have to tell you all about soup swap. but first, I am in the airport, waiting for the first leg of my trip to visit carlo and natasha and hoop in new orleans!

we're already delayed. it can be a little tricky to fly US Airways today!(insert wetsuit jokes here.) anyway...

thank goodness I have my new smart phone with me! I can blog! maybe I will entertain you all day with mindless airport stories. or, maybe I will discretely move away from the guy with the *awful* cologne who just sat down next to me...

Monday, January 12, 2009


it is quite a thing to include your loved ones in "self-portraits." somehow, the person NOT holding the camera invariably does not appreciate multiple retakes. when they start moaning incoherently, or worse, running from the room, you've got to cut your losses pretty quickly.

but before the inevitable spt mutiny, you will probably capture some fantastic photos that capture "true life" with your loved ones. like this one:

my son is on the verge of turning eight, and he lives a life of extremes. he is extremely energetic, extremely goofy, extremely sensitive. and when i tried to take our picture last night, he was extremely uncooperative!

he is also extremely cheeky - do you see that little tongue sticking out??

this last photo captures it all. i had so much to do last night. between preparing for soup swap and getting ready to head out of town, i am shuffling between several to-do lists. my little boy, who thinks i am going to be gone for an extremely long time, really just wanted to play board games last night.

and so, we did.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

planes, trains & automobiles

this was the scene at my house for most of winter vacation:

i snapped a few photos of this, mostly because i was so humored by the fact that, with all of the Christmas-y goodness newly unwrapped, jack spent hours upon hours playing with the hot wheels. i should note that he did not receive any hot wheels for Christmas. kids. they're funny that way, aren't they?

i was scanning through some photos last night, and it occurred to me that these automobile pictures reminded me of my word, journey. (i like to think that *my word* transcends the mundane definition of simply "traveling from one place to the other.") the truth is, i have not journeyed much these past few years. i only left the state of north carolina one time in 2008, and my in-state travels were all work related. my passport is more like a parking pass (not unlike the above photo!)

i am thrilled that i will begin the new year with a fantastic trip to a city i have never visited, and time spent with wonderful, best friends (whom i have never met!) here's hoping that this is only the beginning of an incredible journey.

Friday, January 09, 2009

photoless phriday - overstimulation edition

1. back to work! back to school! acolyte dinner, scouts, spring soccer registration!!

2. first full week back to the hotel after the holidays - let's have a big inspection! okay?!?

3. the holiday eating fest, on top of a very lackidaisical past 6 months have left me really digging deep into my closet for stuff that still fits! what the?!? returning to the "no white foods" way of eating: no sugar! no potatoes! no rice! no white flour (or overly-processed *wheat* flour, for that matter)! have you ever locking myself in my office with a towel stuffed into the space at the bottom of the door!

4. scouts last night, at the fire & rescue department. with boys! and sirens! and diesel engines!!


Thursday, January 08, 2009

sign of the times

this is how you know that it's almost time for soup swap!! (scene from my grocery store last night.)

we are getting ready for our THIRD soup swap. you can read about the first and second swaps - a great source of inspiration if you are going to try your own swap this year!

pop over to the official Soup Swap site for lots of fun information (and a guest post by ME!)

will you swap this year?

Tuesday, January 06, 2009


in 2009, i resolve to get more artistic with my self-portraits. i want to challenge myself be more of a photographer. so i'm experimenting with my little Kodak point & shoot. taking myself on a self-portrait journey, as it were.


boring photo. cool reflection.

no composition. drab and distracting background. (great haircut!)

this one, i like. i know you can't see my eyes. and my lipstick needs a touchup, and my desk is a mess!

but, i like the bird's eye view of my world this morning. i love that i am drinking both coffee AND water. and that my lipstick is smudged because i just ate an apple. and i am obviously intent on my work so that i can be free to go on a journey to new orleans next week!!

what's going on in your world this morning?

Monday, January 05, 2009

don't stop believing

photo courtesy my friend, jeff king

Every day you make progress. Every step may be fruitful.

Yet there will stretch out before you an ever-lengthening,

ever-ascending, ever-improving path.

You know you will never get to the end of the journey.

But this, so far from discouraging, only adds to the

joy and glory of the climb.

Sir Winston Churchill
my word for the year. journey. may 2009 be an ever-lengthening, ever-ascending, ever-improving path.

(oh, yeah, that song you now have repeating endlessly through your thoughts? that's my gift to you!)

Saturday, January 03, 2009


i have yet to find the time to sit down and write a post about my thoughts on the beginning of a new year, the unwritten-upon pages of 2009. i have yet to find the time to sit down and write a post about the word i have chosen to focus my thoughts and energies in this new year.

but i have found the time to give you the spt challenge for the month of january.

i love a new year. i love the chance to start over. and i know you do, too!! so, if you've been absent from spt, or if you haven't gotten up the nerve to link up, or if you are lurking and haven't yet picked up that camera, now is the time to come along! how about you make a resolution to join in the fun?

tuesday, january 6 i resolve to take more self-portraits
tuesday, january 13 i resolve to take more self-portraits with people i love
tuesday, january 20 i resolve to take more self-portraits while trying new things
tuesday, january 27 i resolve to take more self-portraits doing things i enjoy

what have you got to lose? absolutely nothing!
what have you got to gain? a whole lotta self-portraits!

(and so much more...)

Thursday, January 01, 2009

for prosperities' sake

my mom makes a batch of "hoppin' john" every new year's day, so this afternoon i went to her house and retrieved enough servings for matty, jack and i.

in the south, it is said if you eat a serving of "hoppin' john" on new year's day, you will be blessed with good fortune throughout the year.

i just learned that if you eat it the next day (when it is called "skippin' jenny"), you have an even better chance at prosperity.

wish i'd known that about an hour ago...